It’s pretty obvious to all involved – players, coaches, media, fans – where NBA basketball is headed right now.
High pace, more three-point shots, uptempo –- not your father’s game of basketball. For some players – particularly the ones who like to shoot threes – the trend is just fine. But for others… say, traditional low-post centers, it’s not the best kind of change.
Portland’s Jusuf Nurkic isn’t getting the opportunities in the post that he got last season but he’s adapting.
With a little help from Damian Lillard.
“We’re not running that much post and that’s my time to perform well,” Nurkic said Wednesday after practice. “We understand where basketball is going. The coaches, they just don’t want to adjust from small ball. Everybody wants to match up with small ball.”
The fact is, the post wasn’t a very productive spot on the floor for the Trail Blazers last season and a coaching decision was made to get back to what’s been better for the team’s offense – ball and player movement.
“We addressed the whole thing with postups,” said Coach Terry Stotts. “We were not a good postup team last year. In fact, we were a very poor postup team last year.
“As far as Nurk, or anybody… we want to be able to post up a positional advantage, like Zach had some smaller guys last night and we want to be able to take advantage of those.
“We want to play to our strengths. As far as Nurk and our other bigs being involved, they set great screens and when they set great screens our guards find them. They get offensive rebounds, they run the court, so there are other ways to be involved in the offense other than posting up.”
Nurkic has one other ace in the hole, too. He’s got a point guard who listens to him and tries to get him some of those shots he likes in the paint.
“I know the coaches want more movement,” Lillard said. “They addressed the team and told us we aren’t going to have a lot of postups. Obviously, you want to throw him a bone and you want to get the ball down there and let him go to work.
“For me, I I told him, you can just come to me and tell me. He’ll say, ‘Give me a postup’ and I’ll honor that.
“The game will be going real fast and I’ll see he’s got a guy who is going to be a good matchup for him.
“He’s one of those guys, he’ll make the right play, but you have to keep him involved and throw him a bone.
“And give him an opportunity to do what he loves to do.”